Sitka Arts CampusSitka, AK
Alaska Arts Southeast will transform a closed National Historic Landmark college into a multidimensional arts campus, bringing new life to rural Southeast Alaska. ArtPlace spoke with Roger Schmidt, director of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, about the new initiative:
ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?
SCHMIDT: Our strength as an organization has been our ability to draw people and organization into our initiative. In the last two years 500 individuals, 100s of local businesses, over 24,000 volunteer hours were contributed toward repairing and revitalizing the old college campus that we were given. One of the central methods toward our success has been our ability to ask others for help. At any given time, the key toward moving our initiative forward has changed based on our needs. We have had financial advisors, engineers, carpenters, politicians, philanthropists, architects, grant writers, and, sometimes, just people with really good ideas that have volunteered helped us move forward. Our project has been complicated because, simultaneously while we have been repairing buildings, we have also been building programs. This has taken an enormous team that is impossible to separate out from one another.
ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?
SCHMIDT: For me the secrets to good partnerships rest on the single word, “relationship”. A partnership in the world on non-profit simply means to me to have a positive working relationship with another organization. All the skills that are necessary to maintain a good relationship between two individuals are identical to maintaining a strong partnership with another organization. Our partnerships rest on our ability to mutually fulfill needs that both organizations have and to base this sharing on strong communication, respect, and joy in working together. I get excited by our partners because I enjoy working with them; I am excited by their programs and I am excited by the initiatives and collaborations we create together. Just like in a relationship with a person, learning and caring about the other organization’s interests go a long way toward making the work together be successful.
PHOTO: Zuill Bailey, Artistic Director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival, coaches a student from the Sitka Fine Arts Camp as part of a partnership between the Sitka Fine Arts and the Sitka Summer Music Festival.